Citing growing insecurity in its southern neighbor Yemen, Saudi Arabia announced early on Thursday that its fighter jets had hit military targets occupied by the Houthi militia.
“We are determined to protect the legitimate government of Yemen,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington told reporters on Thursday.
“Having Yemen fail cannot be option for us or for our coalition partners.”
The military strike, which destroyed an air base and a number of fighter planes seized by the Houthi militia in Yemen, came just hours after President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi fled the temporary capital of Aden.
Houthi forces, which had forced Hadi out of the national capital Sana after placing him under house arrest in January, had closed in on Aden on Tuesday.
The violence had intensified despite a United Nations Security Council warning that Yemen was on the verge of a catastrophic civil war.
The Houthis on Thursday vowed to respond in kind to Saudi Arabia’s military action.
But a number of countries have endorsed Riyadh’s actions.
The US indicated it was providing Saudi Arabia with support while Egypt said it would mobilize its ground, naval and air forces to take part in the military operations.
Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE said they supported the Saudi strikes.